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If winning the Ivy League for the first time in history was not enough, the Harvard wrestling team put added icing to its season over the weekend with its finest overall performance in the history of Eastern Wrestling Championships held at Lehigh. Out of the top 18 teams in the East, the Crimson placed seventh, their highest ranking ever with 35.5 points.
Harvard edged Columbia by one-half point for top Ivy honors, but placed well behind tournament champion Navy (123 points), which was followed by Lehigh and Syracuse.
More important, though, the tournament served as a preliminary for the prestigious National Championships, held this year in Ames, Iowa. The top three places in each weight class qualify. And for the first time since 1974, Harvard will be represented in the tournament: in fact, the Crimson will send two wrestlers to compete in Ames, 142-ib. Andy McNerney and heavyweight Jim Phills.
McNerney placed third in his weight class after a somewhat disappointing start, losing in the first round to Navy's Schlieker. McNerney, who was seeded second, was given another chance as his opening round opponent won his second match, giving McNerney, the first round opponent, a chance to "wrestle back."
McNerney would not be denied again as he came back to win four straight matches to take his third place finish, scoring one fall in the process. In the match for third place, he controlled the same Navy wrestler who had knocked him off in the first round, 4-0.
After winning his first two matches, Jim Phills lost an "uninspiring" match to George Fears of Navy in the semi-finals. The Harvard heavyweight would come back to win three consecutive decisions to take the final qualifying position for the Nationals.
Freshman Barry Bausano, at 167 lbs., wrestled well, taking fifth place, to make 1982 the first year that three Harvard wrestlers placed in the tourney.
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